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The German Innovation Fund (Innovationsfonds)

The aim of the German Innovation Fund is to promote improvements in the quality of medical care provided under the statutory health insurance system. The Act to Strengthen Care Provision in the Statutory Health Insurance System (Care Provision Strengthening Act) mandated the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) to promote research and development which aims to expand on and enhance current care standards.

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The Innovation Fund at Charité

The Care Provision Strengthening Act came into effect in July 2015. The legislation’s intended purpose was to ensure the ongoing provision and development of easily accessible, high-quality medical care.

For this purpose, the federal government created an innovation fund to be administered by the Federal Joint Committee and aimed at promoting innovative projects. Funding is raised from ‘Gesundheitsfonds’ resources allocated to the statutory health insurance providers (the Gesundheitsfonds – literally ‘health fund’ – is a central fund which receives payments from the insured, then distributes them to the statutory health insurance providers) . As a subcommittee of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), the ‘Innovation Fund Committee’ is responsible for administering funding, setting funding criteria and priorities, and deciding which applications should be awarded funding.

In passing the 2019 Digital Healthcare Act (DVG), the government committed to providing a total of € 200 million per year in funding until 2024. A further feature of the act is to refine the way in which funding is allocated. In future, applications regarding innovative models of care service provision will be subject to a new two-step selection process. Another change is the creation of a new process for the translation and implementation of successful innovative approaches from existing projects into standard care.

Funding decisions are made based on two separate guidelines:

  • Innovative models of care service provision: € 160 million per year is allocated to support the development of long-term integrated care programs with the potential to improve service provision.
  • Health service research: € 40 million per year is reserved for health service research programs. These are responsible for providing the evidence base for solutions pertaining to the design, organization, and financing of the health care system. € 5 million of this is earmarked for the (further) development of medical guidelines.

With its innovative strength, its position at the interface of research and clinical practice, and its six central research foci, Charité is ideally placed to meet the innovation fund’s high standards, whether as an applicant or a partner.

Since 2017, Charité has been involved in a total of 89 ‘Innovationsfonds’-funded projects, of which 53 are led by Charité. 18 of these 53 projects fall into the ‘Innovative models of care service provision’ category, while the other 35 qualified under the fund’s ‘Health services research’ category.